Tussle + Big Digits, P.A.'s Lounge, May 8, 2007
The flashing rave-like lights emitting from P.A.’s Lounge a week ago Tuesday were the first indication that this was not going to be a typical night at the alternative Somerville venue. Tussle, a punk-funk instrumental band from San Francisco, were in town on a 29-date US tour. So, by good fortune, was their friend Alison Childs, who used to light their shows back in California. The laser-like projections covered the entirety of the stage, and that suited openers the Big Digits just fine. Boston’s finest ravesploitation duo played their final show before heading out on their own tour (“We’re going to try and not go bankrupt, morally or otherwise,” joked Digit T.D. Sidell) to a crowd of about 35. With single drum in hand, the art-rap-dance act tore through their raucous opening set, and Mac Swell showed off his increasingly impressive MC skills.
The Digits’ ultra-basic set-up (drum/mic/laptop) made Tussle look like mad sound scientists. Moog keyboards, sequencers, Roland drum pads, a bass, and two full drumkits crammed P.A.’s tiny stage. Between acts, as the fans took in a few more drinks in the adjoining bar, Tussle could be heard outside having an argument about rhythm. Something about how one member refused to “count to four.” And right from the beginning of their set, something was off. Perhaps it’s part of their presentation (Tussle, right?), but the rhythm seemed to be getting pushed and pulled among the two live drummers, the bassist, and Nathan Burazer, the mustachioed beatmaker buried in a heap of electronics near the corner. As the set progressed, Childs’s visuals got more intense, and the band struggled to work out their differences of opinion. The mechanized beat of the machine eventually, or inevitably, won out over the sound — and the syncopation of the human spirit filled in the rest. Approaching the end of their set, the now-tight artpunks even had Mel the bartender next door shaking her rear end to the pervasive beat.
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